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Wikis slow to emerge in Malta

Most Maltese internet users must have heard or used Wikipedia, the popular free online encyclopaedia completely maintained by volunteers. Wikipedia is based on the concept of wikis (from the Hawaiian word ‘wiki’ meaning ‘quick’), or joint online collaboration on particular projects in different areas, especially publishing, education and business.

While Malta has relatively above-average internet infrastructure and usage in the EU, the concept of wikis does not seem to have caught the imagination of the Maltese. The Malta Music Memory Project, or M3P, is one of few successful attempts, and this Saturday it is organising what it calls an ‘editathon’, or short marathon of editing work, on its wiki. This is an ideal opportunity for anyone who wants to seriously consider using wikis to get introduced to the concept.

M3P is a collaborative database of Maltese music and associated arts currently holding memories on over 900 pages contributed by more than 300 registered users. The main goal is to provide an inclusive repository for memories of Malta’s music and associated arts, ensuring that these are kept in posterity for current and future generations.

“There are only a very small number of Maltese wikis,” confirmed with i-Tech Toni Sant, the creator and promoter of M3P. “One of the other major Maltese wikis is the Maltese-language Wikipedia, which although quite limited in terms of its coverage compared to other major languages, is still 174th out of the 285 different languages as Wikipedia is available globally. The Malta Music Memory Project revolves around the wiki at m3p.com.mt and this means that whatever happens in relation to the project finds an extended life on the wiki and vice versa.”

The M3P Foundation, the non-for-profit organisation sustaining M3P, is holding its first annual editathon on Saturday, at the National Archives of Malta in Rabat.

Dr Sant explained that at the event a number of established contributors to this repository, of which the wiki is the online component, will be getting together to share best practice and work with new or potential contributors on the best ways to collaboratively share relevant content on the wiki.

“While the technology may seem a little daunting at first, the sense of community derived from a wiki editathon is an excellent way for anyone to see that working on a project like the M3P is a collaborative effort, where the whole system is naturally greater than the sum of its parts,” reassured the founder of the project.

While wikis in Malta are still at a very exploratory stage, the concept is continuously evolving abroad, with Wikipedia remaining at the forefront. However, the online encyclopedia is only one of several projects from Wikimedia, a global movement whose mission is to bring free educational content to the world. Wikibooks, Wikisource, Wikinews, Wiktionary, Wikispecies, and Wikivoyage are just some of the many wikis run by the movement. There are other wikis, but MediaWiki, the software developed most famously for Wikipedia, is undoubtedly the one used by most people around the world.

The M3P wiki is also built on the MediaWiki software package, which is available as free open source software through Wikimedia.

More details on the editathon from the M3P wiki.

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